Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana could not help but express his admiration for his Japanese counterpart, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, after the latter showed him just how courteous Japanese people can be.
The two defense chiefs held a virtual meeting last Wednesday, June 2, where the eagle-eyed Lorenzana noticed that Kishi’s desk was decorated with familiar Filipino items and symbols: a Philippine flag, banana, dried mangoes, and chips on one side and a traditional “jeepney” on the other side.
“During my meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi [Wednesday], I couldn’t help but notice how the Japanese express their respect and courteousness, even online. As you can see, they took the time and effort to decorate the minister’s desk with symbolic Filipino items. Nakakatuwang tingnan (It was amusing to see),” Lorenzana said in a social media post.
In a statement on Friday, June 4, Defense Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Lorenzana and Kishi discussed the bilateral defense relations between the Philippines and Japan, and various regional security concerns including the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Both officials noted the increasing activities between the two countries’ militaries across all major services and agreed that the Philippines and Japan should further deepen cooperation in all areas,” Andolong said.
Amid China’s aggressive behavior in the WPS, Andolong said that Lorenzana and Kishi both expressed “grave concern” over the unilateral actions of certain countries to change the status quo in the South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea (ECS).
The two defense chiefs underscored the need for all parties “to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and to exercise self-restraint in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law,” specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Further, Lorenzana and Kishi acknowledged the importance of cooperation to combat infectious diseases amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Relatedly, Kishi thanked the Philippines for its support and participation in the recently conducted virtual Japan-ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Program, which focused on the military’s role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also discussed the regional security in Southeast Asia and Korean Peninsula, and reaffirmed commitment to support the upcoming activities between Manila and Tokyo’s defense departments.
Lorenzana also expressed appreciation for Japan’s continuous support to the capability-upgrade program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He said the TC-90 aircraft that were procured from Japan in 2018 were being highly utilized for the AFP’s reconnaissance missions.
Meanwhile, Kishi noted that the transfer of radar systems to the Philippines, which the latter bought for P5 billion and started delivering in 2020, was progressing “smoothly.”
“Thank you Defense Minister Kishi for your time and I look forward to the upcoming activities and projects between our two countries,” Lorenzana said.